Texas Will No Longer Share Death Row Inmate's Final Statements

AUSTIN — Texas prison officials on Tuesday abruptly halted the practice of sharing death row inmate's final written statements after a lawmaker expressed outrage over the state relaying the last words of an avowed racist executed for the 1998 dragging death of a black man, James Byrd Jr. It marks the second recent change to execution-day procedures in the nation's busiest death chamber. Earlier this month, Texas also stopped letting clergy inside after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of a man who wanted his Buddhist spiritual adviser with him. Death penalty opponents criticized the back-to-back changes, saying they underscore a need for more oversight in decision making surrounding executions in Texas, where a fourth person this year is set to die by lethal injection Thursday. State Sen. John Whitmire had chastised prison officials Monday for reading John William King's final written statement last week after he was executed for Byrd's killing. "If a death row inmate has something to say to the public or victims, let him or her say it when they are strapped to the gurney," Whitmire wrote in a letter to prison officials.   Continue reading...

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